by Evan Franklin


Using the Buyer's Journey in Senior Living Marketing

Empathy is something the world could use more of right now, and for senior living organizations, plays a key role in the sales process. In the senior living industry, the buyer’s journey is particularly fraught with various emotions, and it’s of utmost importance to empathize with these feelings and align your sales process through the lens of their journey. Don’t get lost in a sea of sameness by repeating the same follow-up techniques; blend personalization and storytelling to stand out and put prospects’ minds at ease, making your community the first choice for their loved ones or themselves.
According to HubSpot, “The buyer’s journey is the process buyers go through to become aware of, consider and evaluate, and decide to purchase a new product or service.” It is usually broken down into three stages:

  1. Awareness: The prospect realizes they have a problem or need (this can be the prospective resident themselves, or a loved one) and they are conducting research in order to better define it.
  2. Consideration: The prospect has clearly identified and named the problem or need (the need for a new living situation) and begins researching all of the specific possible solutions.
  3. Decision: The prospect has decided upon a specific solution (independent living, assisted living, memory care, etc.) and is exploring all of the available options/providers, and deciding on the best choice.

How do we reflect these stages within our sales and marketing processes?


This stage can be particularly emotional for prospects as it is often associated with some type of inciting incident or loss of independence. Whether it’s a fall at home, problems maintaining their living space, or a new inability to take care of finances, there has been an indication that a change is needed. Some may realize immediately this is a change to the affected person’s living situation, but others may not. The former group needs to see affirmation of their decision, and the latter needs to be informed of why such a drastic change is good for everyone involved.
For this early stage, try using your website to promote a checklist along the lines of “How to tell if it’s time for a senior living solution,” featuring red flags to watch for such as:

  1. They seem more confused than normal or acting a little strangely outside of the house
  2. Increased falls at home
  3. Leaving the stove on accidentally, or a sudden change in eating habits
  4. Bills are not being paid on time, or appointments are being missed
  5. Bathing habits have changed, mismatched clothing


Now that the prospect is certain a change is needed, they must consider what kind of change this is and what level of care or support is needed. Does the potential resident need only a few support systems that an assisted living community can provide, or is their situation more severe and might warrant a more involved memory care solution? During this stage, they may begin to reach out to you to ascertain whether your services align with their need.

  1. Help early prospects decide what level of care they might need by offering a quiz on your website using a platform such as Roobrik, which provides helpful detailed quizzes that get to the root of what their loved one may need. This is helpful for the prospect and provides your sales team with critical information to use during the Decision stage
  2. Provide a whitepaper download on the website describing how to talk to your parents or loved ones about senior living options
  3. Invite the prospects to educational seminars held virtually at the community
  4. Ensure you have consistent communication with the prospect so that a relationship is formed


Now the prospect knows exactly what kind of services they need, they are exploring specific providers, including you and your direct competition. It is your job to help them see that yours is the right choice.
Use this litmus test to stay on track during this critical stage in the buyer’s journey:

  1. All communications are streamlined based on the prospect’s unique needs and preferred method of communication
  2. Expectations are aligned
  3. All questions are answered
  4. You have painted the perfect picture of what their life will look like in your community

By viewing their journey through this lens, you can fine-tune your processes to be exactly what prospects are looking for. You will have systems that cater to buyers at each stage of their journey, and your approach to messaging and outreach will make you a natural fit – as if you were a part of their extended family, providing support during this process.
If you’d like to learn more or get a free, no-obligation assessment of your current marketing strategy and how to optimize it to drive occupancies today, contact Big Buzz today to get scheduled.

Big Buzz is a marketing agency delivering a steady stream of move-in-ready leads to teams serving the senior living industry. For more than 15 years, Big Buzz has helped senior living marketing and sales teams nurture leads to increase occupancy, grow and scale. CEO Wendy O’Donovan Phillips is the author of the book Flourish!: The Method Used by Aging Services Organizations for the Ultimate Marketing Results, has been published in McKnight’s, has been a regular contributor to Forbes, and has been quoted in The Washington Post, ABC News and Chicago Tribune. The Big Buzz leadership team regularly lectures in front of audiences ranging from 25 to 3,000 attendees, including at Argentum and various LeadingAge chapters. Agency awards and accolades include recognition for excellence by the American Marketing Association, Gold Key Award Winner by the Business Marketing Association, HubSpot Academy Inbound Marketing Certification, and Top Advertising and Marketing Agency by Clutch.

by Evan Franklin



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